My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The question that arises, upon reading this book, is: How can I take this woman seriously? Or even, can I take this woman seriously?
The problem that I have with the story is that I am a born-and-bred Australian. And I have a really, really big problem with patronising Americans. I have a problem with their condescension of the way we speak, how we see the world, things about our society, her insistance on calling Australia “down under”, and so on and so forth. I also have a big problem with the way they see our interior land, as this woman did: as wasteland.
She sees the Aboriginal people as having been relegated to the interior wasteland, that the rest of us pushed them into the shitty parts of the country. Well, sorry love, but while whitefella was a c*nt to the Aboriginals, that’s one thing we never did.
It’s a bad way to build a relationship with your readers. The result is that I took her story with a bucket of salt, appreciated some of the meaning in it, and viewed her self-reflection as the superficial “I want to be enlightened” story that it is.
It is the same Noble Native story that has been told the world over. I agree that Indigenous Australians have incredible healing, tracking, navigation, and other abilities. But I wouldn’t consider them over and above any other philosophical timeless culture that exists in any other part of the world.
The other element that I struggled with was the notion that she was apparently missing for three or more months, and nobody cared. Well, I’m sorry: Australians are laid-back, but we aren’t *that* laid-back. I struggle to believe that nobody called the cops, nobody was interested in her disappearance, nothing was made of it. Very strange, very unlike anyone in Australia, and it relies a little too much on her audience’s credulity.
Mutant Message Down Under could have been a book with some integrity, but like much Americanisms, it falls flat and feels dishonest. Perhaps if the author hadn’t believed she was a notch above everyone else, things may have changed.